Ex-New Bedford priest who also served in Attleboro area settles sexual abuse lawsuit

The Sun Chronicle [Attleboro MA]

May 17, 2023

By David Linton

A former New Bedford priest who served at churches in Attleboro, North Attleboro and Easton has settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with a former altar boy at his parish in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Richard Degagne, who was a priest at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford when the alleged abuse occurred, settled the lawsuit with a payment “in the low to mid six figures,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, told the New Bedford Standard Times.

The plaintiff, Jason Medeiros of Acushnet, was an altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford, and participated in a Catholic youth group.

In the lawsuit filed in Bristol County Superior Court, Medeiros alleged he was sexually abused by Degagne at various times between 1988 and 1991 when he was 13 to 15 years old.

The alleged abuse occurred in Degagne’s bedroom in the rectory of St. Padua Church, in Degagne’s car in New Bedford and other locations in Massachusetts, and during an overnight trip to Maine, according to the lawsuit.

Degagne, who is now in his late 60s and lives in Brownfield, Maine, denied the allegations in the lawsuit.

He also worked at St. John in Attleboro, Sacred Heart in North Attleboro and Immaculate Conception in North Easton in addition to other churches in the Fall River Diocese.

‘Credible accusation’

Degagne was ordained in 1982, suspended in 2019 and can no longer practice in the public ministry.

He was one of the priests against whom a “credible accusation” of child abuse was substantiated by the Fall River Diocese in December 2021, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The diocese offers supportive services to survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families throughout the legal process and continuing after a conclusion is reached. Anyone who needs assistance can contact Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Carolyn Shipp at 508-985-6508 (confidential voicemail) or cshipp@dioc-fr.org.